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Central Serengeti, Tanzania

8 September 2007

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The next stop was one night in Seronera in the central part of the Serengeti National Park, an area I had visited 7 years previously and been dismayed by the sheer volume of vehicles at various sightings. Although this proved to be true once again (whilst sitting with for an hour with a leopard in a tree we were variously attended by 50-60 other cars), Seronera DID indulge me with some of her hidden jewels.

At the beginning of the trip I had drawn up a short list of the rare creatures that I hoped I might possibly espy. The list in rough ascending order of difficulty – cheetah cubs, caracal, serval, honey badger, striped hyena, aardwolf, aardvark and pangolin (the last four are purely nocturnal and basically impossible whilst the others are simply very very seldomly seen). My hope was that I could see 1-2 of the list oer the course of two months.

So. My guide for the next 24 hours was Jackson from Green Footprint (the company organizing the whole Tanzanian component of my trip). He picked me up from the Seronera airstrip and the beginning of the drive was very much as I feared, as besides the leopard sighting there were hordes of vehicles in attendance of a pair of lions who were intermittently trying to mate. Jackson then mentioned that on his way to the airstrip to pick me up he had spotted a cheetah with two young cubs just off the main entrance road, which immediately had me pointing him in the direction of Simba Kopje to try and track them down. My hopes were heightened by two other guides we spoke with who had seen them earlier that morning as well. Once we arrived at the kopje we began our search, and although there was much to hold my interest (including a pair of lioness in a marsh some way off), the cheetah remained elusive.

And then suddenly it happened, just as it does on many a safari, Jackson spots a cat in the marsh and excitedly calls out “Cheetah”! But to my immense delight it was no cheetah, but rather a male Serval on the prowl. We did our best to follow him but given that he was a quite a distance away and that in this part of the Serengeti there is absolutely no off-roading the shots were more documentary rather than particularly good. Nevertheless an exhilarating experencience.

As we reluctantly left, having long since lost sight of the beautiful cat, Jackson quips “Maybe we will see another one so that you can get better pictures”. I just laughed, knowing the incredible odds of that occurring. And then the safari lightning hit! Just minutes after his little joke Jackson spots ANOTHER Serval, just 15m or so off the road. This was a female who was completely unbothered by our presence, completely focused on her hunting. It was only after an incredible half an hour that she eventually wandered off. And all of this without another car in sight!

I had two other great lone sightings – spotted hyena cubs on our way back from the serval and a lioness with two 9-month old cubs in the long grass at dawn the following morning. The night was spent at Olikira Camp, another of the great camps run by Sokwe Asilia.

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2 comments so far (post your own)

What a wonderful lot of pictures. A very special eye and a very special talent. And you so lucky to be have the ablility to capture all this on camera. And a knowlegeable and interesting commentary. Enjoyed it all. Loved it. Lucky chap. Geraldine

Posted by Geraldine on
Wednesday, 10.24.07 @ 15:18pm | #8304

So far, through more than 12 mhonts,No debate! But a shameful and useless tug of war between those misinformed and misled, by extremists, wilderness preservationists, on one hand and on the other, the Tanzanian government. Each side ridiculously keeping on hoping to win the other to yield ! Weird, creativity and foresight have eluded both parties.Please read this map and capture the ideal route option, that Shall Save the Serengeti and open the door to Ensure a Bright Destiny for the host communities to the World Heritage thrown into the depth of environmental threats.

Posted by Darmawan on
Thursday, 05.17.12 @ 20:33pm | #91968